7 December 2012

Gambia Renewable Energy Law, Electricity Strategy Validated

The Development of an Electricity Strategy and Renewable Energy Law of The Gambia was validated Thursday at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi.

Funded by the European Union Energy Initiative Partnership Dialogue Facility (EUEI/PDF) and implemented by the Ministry of Energy, the development of an Electricity Strategy and Action/Investment Plan focuses on the promotion of access to electricity and renewable energies and the strengthening of the legal and regulatory framework for renewable energies including a Renewable Energy Law.

The electricity strategy and renewable energy law will include inter alia the establishment of feed-in tariffs and standardised power purchase agreements (PPA) to attract private sector investment in electricity generation based on renewable energy. This is expected to create an enabling environment for the replication of the demonstration projects that will be funded under the GEF/UNIDO project Promoting Renewable Energy Based Mini Grids for Productive Uses in Rural Areas in The Gambia, and identify priorities for investments funded by other development partners including the EU.

Addressing the gathering, Dr. Njogou Bah, the minister of Presidential Affairs and secretary general and head of the Civil Service, said clean affordable renewable energy is dispensable to national development. He described the initiative as timely and appropriate, while commending the EUEI/PDF for supporting The Gambia in the project. He said the document when validated and ratified, will establish a fitting tariff, which will promote renewable energy in many rural areas of The Gambia.

Minister Bah further told the gathering that The Gambia's energy use has increased drastically, with energy consumption rushing on a fast rate. He noted that renewable energy does only replace cost of fuel, but also helps to generate power. According to him, while government is perceived as the key player and can facilitate business and investment climate through which producers and consumers are able to overcome the barriers that they currently face, there is a clear consistent and long-term policy framework supported by a strategy and by a well-evaluated regulator instrument.

"In the renewable energy transition, there are also other important key players, mainly research institutions and NGOs who all have critical roles to play," Minister Bah said, while calling on the private sector and other stakeholders to ensure taking key roles in making the implementation of the document a reality.

He added: "To translate into reality, it is incumbent on the government, development partners and private sector to work together to realise the targets."

Minister Bah also used the platform to commend partners for their critical role in the preparation of the document. He particularly commended EUEI/PDF for the funding.

Mod K Ceesay, the deputy permanent secretary, Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, said the validation of the document marks a very significant milestone in the efforts to provide efficient electricity supply in Gambian communities. He noted that the government of The Gambia has in the last two decades been grappling with the supply of electricity to communities. He also stressed the fact that government continues to put in place favourable policies for the people.

Ceesay described energy as the locomotive for development growth, adding that that is why the government of The Gambia decided to put plans in the macro-economic sector.He said The Gambia is endowed with renewable energy resources, and that the high maintenance cost of heavy and light fuel requires the efforts of all to help address this issue. While calling on participants to ensure full participation during the discussions, DPS Ceesay used the gathering to thank the funding agent.

Agnes Guillaud, the European Union charge d' Affairs in The Gambia, observed that after its validation, the document will provide the legal framework to The Gambia for an efficient promotion of renewable energy resources. She said the Act could be considered as a major milestone in the development of the renewable energy sector, which she said is identified as a priority in the PAGE 2012-2015 by the government of The Gambia.

Guillaud stressed that The Gambia's current high dependency on fuel leads to several extremely negative consequences, ranging from the cost of electricity to the highly fluctuating price of fuel and the limited capacities of stakeholders in the sector.

She continued: "While acknowledging the efforts that are already being made to modernise the electricity sector by all stakeholders, the EU delegation is looking forward to seeing the renewable energy law adopted by The Gambia."

Lucius Mayer-Tasch and Enrique Patino, representative of the EUEI/PDF and the consultants of the project, both expressed hope that the gathering will help to resolve many problems in The Gambia's energy sector.

After the validation, the document will be presented before the National Assembly members for adoption.

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